[b-hebrew] Lexical question

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Thu Jul 30 15:35:56 EDT 2009

To All:
Recently I went through an exercise in lexicography, so I thought I’d share
what I did.

As I was reading through Proverbs 28:15 for the nth time, reading DB $WQQ, I
finally said “This is enough! This doesn’t really mean that.” What I
referred to was the term $WQQ, which can be either from $WQ or $QQ. Yet when
I looked at dictionaries, both terms seem to have almost the same meaning,
centering around pouring out.

The first step was to research bears a bit. What I found out is that bears
spend almost all their time either sleeping or foraging for food. And when
they are foraging for food, watch out! They are dangerous. That little human
may just be that tasty treat that helps get enough energy to wake up after
hibernation. Now I don’t know about ancient Israeli bears, but if they were
anything like northern European bears, humans were considered fair game. The
picture I got from the verse is of a bear padding about, looking for food.

Notice, I am not looking at the bear as a subject, but as an actor,
concentrating on his actions.

The next step was to look up $WQ and $QQ in a concordance. Under $WQ, I
found Joel 2:24 and 4:13, both in the Hiphil where wine/oil presses cause
the fluids to come out. Hence the idea of pouring listed above.

All the other uses which from form appear to be Qal, Piel or Pilel were of
people, locusts and other legged creatures. The contexts indicate that these
subjects were out and about, usually for the purpose of acquisition, such as
through purchase, foraging and/or looting.

Looking at one derivative, $WQ meaning city street lined with shops and
stalls, I get a picture of people wandering around the stores getting their
supplies. Again the idea of being out and about.

So the final conclusion I draw is that the verb refers to being out, usually
for the purpose of acquiring stuff.

Previously I had not listed $WQ “shin (leg)” as a derivative of the same
root as the verb $WQ, because I could not see the meaning connection between
“pour” and “shin”. The connection of a shared form is not enough to show a
shared etymology, at least not in my mind. I need to see a meaning
connection as well. But now, when I see a verbal use indicating creatures
with legs being out and about, i.e. “legging around”, now I see a meaning
connection as well. Only now am I able to recognize an etymological
connection as well.

In closing, my revised dictionary listing now says:

שׁוק to be out, often for the purpose to acquire stuff, through foraging,
purchase or looting → משׁק being out and about ⇒ being all over the place
(like locusts in a field) Is 33:4 αλ, שׁוק, שׁק shin (bone) (⇐ the idea of
being out, walking around “legging about”), an animal’s right rear leg given
as part of a feast to show honor, שׁוק על ירך idiom, meaning “dead”, for
people who lie with their legs so twisted can only be dead, it is very
uncomfortable for the living, שׁוק city street lined with stalls and stores
⇒ market where people are out and about among the sales stalls and stores to
acquire stuff

(I hope all the symbols come through.)

Since I just went over this definition during this week, the steps are still
fresh in my mind and I thought it might be of interest to others just where
I get my definitions from. Most of the times, however, I have no problem
with the dictionary meanings I found in other dictionaries, so I use those.

What do you all think?

Karl W. Randolph.

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